Acts 24; Acts 25; Acts 26

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Acts 24

1 Five days later Ananias, the high priest, went to the city of Caesarea with some of the older Jewish leaders and a lawyer named Tertullus. They had come to make charges against Paul before the governor.
2 Paul was called into the meeting, and Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, "Most Excellent Felix! Our people enjoy much peace because of you, and many wrong things in our country are being made right through your wise help.
3 We accept these things always and in every place, and we are thankful for them.
4 But not wanting to take any more of your time, I beg you to be kind and listen to our few words.
5 We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up the Jews everywhere in the world. He is a leader of the Nazarene group.
6 Also, he was trying to make the Temple unclean, but we stopped him.
8 By asking him questions yourself, you can decide if all these things are true."
9 The other Jews agreed and said that all of this was true.
10 When the governor made a sign for Paul to speak, Paul said, "Governor Felix, I know you have been a judge over this nation for a long time. So I am happy to defend myself before you.
11 You can learn for yourself that I went to worship in Jerusalem only twelve days ago.
12 Those who are accusing me did not find me arguing with anyone in the Temple or stirring up the people in the synagogues or in the city.
13 They cannot prove the things they are saying against me now.
14 But I will tell you this: I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way of Jesus. The Jews say that the Way of Jesus is not the right way. But I believe everything that is taught in the law of Moses and that is written in the books of the Prophets.
15 I have the same hope in God that they have -- the hope that all people, good and bad, will surely be raised from the dead.
16 This is why I always try to do what I believe is right before God and people.
17 "After being away from Jerusalem for several years, I went back to bring money to my people and to offer sacrifices.
18 I was doing this when they found me in the Temple. I had finished the cleansing ceremony and had not made any trouble; no people were gathering around me.
19 But there were some Jews from the country of Asia who should be here, standing before you. If I have really done anything wrong, they are the ones who should accuse me.
20 Or ask these Jews here if they found any wrong in me when I stood before the Jewish council in Jerusalem.
21 But I did shout one thing when I stood before them: 'You are judging me today because I believe that people will rise from the dead!'"
22 Felix already understood much about the Way of Jesus. He stopped the trial and said, "When commander Lysias comes here, I will decide your case."
23 Felix told the officer to keep Paul guarded but to give him some freedom and to let his friends bring what he needed.
24 After some days Felix came with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, and asked for Paul to be brought to him. He listened to Paul talk about believing in Christ Jesus.
25 But Felix became afraid when Paul spoke about living right, self-control, and the time when God will judge the world. He said, "Go away now. When I have more time, I will call for you."
26 At the same time Felix hoped that Paul would give him some money, so he often sent for Paul and talked with him.
27 But after two years, Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus as governor. But Felix had left Paul in prison to please the Jews.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Acts 25

1 Three days after Festus became governor, he went from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
2 There the leading priests and the important Jewish leaders made charges against Paul before Festus.
3 They asked Festus to do them a favor. They wanted him to send Paul back to Jerusalem, because they had a plan to kill him on the way.
4 But Festus answered that Paul would be kept in Caesarea and that he himself was returning there soon.
5 He said, "Some of your leaders should go with me. They can accuse the man there in Caesarea, if he has really done something wrong."
6 Festus stayed in Jerusalem another eight or ten days and then went back to Caesarea. The next day he told the soldiers to bring Paul before him. Festus was seated on the judge's seat
7 when Paul came into the room. The Jewish people who had come from Jerusalem stood around him, making serious charges against him, which they could not prove.
8 This is what Paul said to defend himself: "I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law, against the Temple, or against Caesar."
9 But Festus wanted to please the Jews. So he asked Paul, "Do you want to go to Jerusalem for me to judge you there on these charges?"
10 Paul said, "I am standing at Caesar's judgment seat now, where I should be judged. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews; you know this is true.
11 If I have done something wrong and the law says I must die, I do not ask to be saved from death. But if these charges are not true, then no one can give me to them. I want Caesar to hear my case!"
12 Festus talked about this with his advisers. Then he said, "You have asked to see Caesar, so you will go to Caesar!"
13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to visit Festus.
14 They stayed there for some time, and Festus told the king about Paul's case. Festus said, "There is a man that Felix left in prison.
15 When I went to Jerusalem, the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders there made charges against him, asking me to sentence him to death.
16 But I answered, 'When a man is accused of a crime, Romans do not hand him over until he has been allowed to face his accusers and defend himself against their charges.'
17 So when these Jews came here to Caesarea for the trial, I did not waste time. The next day I sat on the judge's seat and commanded that the man be brought in.
18 The Jews stood up and accused him, but not of any serious crime as I thought they would.
19 The things they said were about their own religion and about a man named Jesus who died. But Paul said that he is still alive.
20 Not knowing how to find out about these questions, I asked Paul, 'Do you want to go to Jerusalem and be judged there?'
21 But he asked to be kept in Caesarea. He wants a decision from the emperor. So I ordered that he be held until I could send him to Caesar."
22 Agrippa said to Festus, "I would also like to hear this man myself." Festus said, "Tomorrow you will hear him."
23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice appeared with great show, acting like very important people. They went into the judgment room with the army leaders and the important men of Caesarea. Then Festus ordered the soldiers to bring Paul in.
24 Festus said, "King Agrippa and all who are gathered here with us, you see this man. All the Jewish people, here and in Jerusalem, have complained to me about him, shouting that he should not live any longer.
25 When I judged him, I found no reason to order his death. But since he asked to be judged by Caesar, I decided to send him.
26 But I have nothing definite to write the emperor about him. So I have brought him before all of you -- especially you, King Agrippa. I hope you can question him and give me something to write.
27 I think it is foolish to send a prisoner to Caesar without telling what charges are against him."
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Acts 26

1 Agrippa said to Paul, "You may now speak to defend yourself." Then Paul raised his hand and began to speak.
2 He said, "King Agrippa, I am very happy to stand before you and will answer all the charges the Jewish people make against me.
3 You know so much about all the Jewish customs and the things the Jews argue about, so please listen to me patiently.
4 "All the Jewish people know about my whole life, how I lived from the beginning in my own country and later in Jerusalem.
5 They have known me for a long time. If they want to, they can tell you that I was a good Pharisee. And the Pharisees obey the laws of the Jewish religion more carefully than any other group.
6 Now I am on trial because I hope for the promise that God made to our ancestors.
7 This is the promise that the twelve tribes of our people hope to receive as they serve God day and night. My king, the Jews have accused me because I hope for this same promise!
8 Why do any of you people think it is impossible for God to raise people from the dead?
9 "I, too, thought I ought to do many things against Jesus from Nazareth.
10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem. The leading priests gave me the power to put many of God's people in jail, and when they were being killed, I agreed it was a good thing.
11 In every synagogue, I often punished them and tried to make them speak against Jesus. I was so angry against them I even went to other cities to find them and punish them.
12 "One time the leading priests gave me permission and the power to go to Damascus.
13 On the way there, at noon, I saw a light from heaven. It was brighter than the sun and flashed all around me and those who were traveling with me.
14 We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice speaking to me in the Jewish language, saying, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? You are only hurting yourself by fighting me.'
15 I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' The Lord said, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.
16 Stand up! I have chosen you to be my servant and my witness -- you will tell people the things that you have seen and the things that I will show you. This is why I have come to you today.
17 I will keep you safe from your own people and also from those who are not Jewish. I am sending you to them
18 to open their eyes so that they may turn away from darkness to the light, away from the power of Satan and to God. Then their sins can be forgiven, and they can have a place with those people who have been made holy by believing in me.'
19 "King Agrippa, after I had this vision from heaven, I obeyed it.
20 I began telling people that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God and do things to show they really had changed. I told this first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem, and in every part of Judea, and also to those who are not Jewish.
21 This is why the Jews took me and were trying to kill me in the Temple.
22 But God has helped me, and so I stand here today, telling all people, small and great, what I have seen. But I am saying only what Moses and the prophets said would happen --
23 that the Christ would die, and as the first to rise from the dead, he would bring light to the Jewish and non-Jewish people."
24 While Paul was saying these things to defend himself, Festus said loudly, "Paul, you are out of your mind! Too much study has driven you crazy!"
25 Paul said, "Most excellent Festus, I am not crazy. My words are true and sensible.
26 King Agrippa knows about these things, and I can speak freely to him. I know he has heard about all of these things, because they did not happen off in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, do you believe what the prophets wrote? I know you believe."
28 King Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian in such a short time?"
29 Paul said, "Whether it is a short or a long time, I pray to God that not only you but every person listening to me today would be saved and be like me -- except for these chains I have."
30 Then King Agrippa, Governor Festus, Bernice, and all the people sitting with them stood up
31 and left the room. Talking to each other, they said, "There is no reason why this man should die or be put in jail."
32 And Agrippa said to Festus, "We could let this man go free, but he has asked Caesar to hear his case."
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.